OMAHA — Terence "Bud" Crawford knows Nebraska is a football state.

And he knows how the state turns out for Husker games.

The WBO and WBC junior welterweight world champion witnessed it firsthand when he was introduced during the Oregon game last fall.

"If you watch Nebraska football play and see how our state turn out, each and every home game, you will see how big it is," Crawford said during Thursday's news conference at the Sheraton Hotel.

Crawford will fight to unify four belts Saturday when he faces IBF and WBA champion Julius Indongo at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

And the way Crawford sees it, PBA is the first step to conquering Lincoln and the state.

"That's what I want for me and my fights," Crawford said. "I want it to be as big as that, you know 80,000 people coming to each and every home game, sold out.

"And who knows? Maybe one day I can be able to fight in the football stadium."

Top Rank president Todd duBoef wasn't about to throw cold water on the idea, either.

"I love fights in football stadiums," duBoef said.

Crawford also sees the fight, which will leave the winner the undisputed, undefeated world champion, as a way to put Nebraska firmly on the boxing map.

"This is what we in the sport for, is to fight the best fights in the division, and fight the best fighters and collect all these belts that you see in front of you," Crawford said. "The closest person to capture all four belts in this division was Kostya Tszyu in (2003).

"I want to be labeled as the man that won all four of them, in my state of Nebraska. A lot of people don't believe good talent comes from Omaha, Nebraska, and I've been proving them wrong ever since I came on the scene of boxing, from amateurs to pro.

"To win all these titles in one night is going to mean everything."

Unfriendly confines: Indongo’s previous title fights weren’t exactly in places friendly to him. He fought both Eduard Troyanovsky (IBF title) and Ricky Burns (WBA) in their native countries of Russia and Scotland, respectively. Indongo knocked out Troyanovsky in just 40 seconds and then dominated Burns in a unanimous 12-round decision to move his record to 22-0 and become the first Namibian boxer to unify world titles.

Next up is Crawford. While the fight is not in Crawford's hometown of Omaha, it's just right down the road in Lincoln in front of what figures to be a wildly pro-Crawford crowd.

“You just have to be a man," Indongo said of going to other boxers' home areas for title fights. "Because it’s not easy. Because if you don’t have the heart to focus, so you can defeat someone in his backyard.

“It’s a matter of having skill and also focus.”

Pound-for-pound talk: Crawford was asked by the news conference moderator where, should he win Saturday, he should be in the pound-for-pound rankings.

His reply was quiet and assured.

"No. 1," Crawford said plainly. "No. 1. It's nothing else to be discussed about. Just No. 1."

Hoop bets: Shakur Stevenson, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist, is a super featherweight fighting in just his third pro fight, to kick off the main card. And the Newark, New Jersey, native spent some time training with Crawford in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

What did he learn? Firstly, Stevenson learned of Crawford's super-competitive nature. And?

"I'm going to let everybody in Omaha know that I took $100 from him playing basketball," Stevenson said with a wide grin, as the crowd supplied the laughter.

But in all seriousness, Stevenson said he learned a lot, from just watching Crawford move to studying Crawford's dedication to the craft.

"He takes his craft very seriously," Stevenson said.

Crawford met the bet revelation with an icy, but bemused, stare. Stevenson later added some context to the bet.

"I ain't gonna lie to you," Stevenson said. "This dude is like an NBA player.

"So I made sure his team was garbage," he continued, getting Crawford to crack a smile. "We had five good players, I ain't gonna lie to you. It was five against one. It was a tough game, though."

The origin of the "McGregor Challenge": Perhaps you've seen the "McGregor Challenge."

It was inspired by Conor McGregor's bizarre workout from earlier this month. Crawford provided the origin, which was started by boxing freelance photographer Mikey Williams, who called out Crawford.

"We was already talking about (McGregor's workout) in the gym, playing around, and then Mikey sent his little video over and told me to do it," Crawford said. "That's how it got started."

Here's the original challenge.


I challenge all boxers to the McGregor Challenge @stevennelsonboxing @redder402 @coach_chet_

A post shared by Terence Bud Crawford (@tbudcrawford) on Aug 13, 2017 at 5:49pm PDT

Bright lights: The two light heavyweight fighters, in the second fight of the main card, had slightly differing responses to boxing on a big stage — the bout will also be broadcast live on ESPN.

The six undercard fights will be available for live streaming through the ESPN App, while the final three fights will be broadcast live on ESPN, starting at 9 p.m.

“It’s a bit much,” Craig Baker, of Baytown, Texas, admitted. “But I’m very grateful for this tremendous opportunity and plan to put on a show.”

Oleksandr Gvozdyk, the opponent and holder of the NABO and NABF titles, wasn't quite as wide-eyed.

“Actually, it doesn’t matter for me,” said Gvozdyk, who won the 2012 Olympic bronze medal in the light heavyweight division for his home country of Ukraine. “I get used to fights with a big audience because I was an amateur and I was in the Olympic games; I get used to all of this.

“So just regular stuff.”

Last fight at 140? A lot of the chatter surrounding this fight and Crawford is that should he win, will he move to welterweight?

"We don't know yet," Crawford said. "Like I tell everybody, we at 140 now and this is where we doing our business at."

Crawford added that following the fight, his team and promoter (Top Rank) will decide what's best for his career and where they'll go next.

Reach the writer at crobus@journalstar.com or 402-473-2646. On Twitter @ClintRobus.


Digital sports editor

Clint Robus is the digital and assistant sports editor at the Journal Star.

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